Amazon To Sack 10,000 Employees

In this file photo taken on April 5, 2021, the Amazon logo at the Amazon fulfillment center in Staten Island, one of the five boroughs of New York City. (Photo by Johannes EISELE / AFP)

 

Amazon is preparing to lay off as many as 10,000 employees, The New York Times reported on Monday, making the e-commerce behemoth the latest tech giant to unleash a large-scale redundancy plan.

This would represent a little less than one percent of the group’s total payroll, which had 1.54 million employees worldwide at the end of September, not counting seasonal workers who are recruited during periods of increased activity like the Christmas holidays.

The Times report said the affected positions will be located in Amazon’s devices department, the retail division and human resources.

The distribution by country was not specified.

The report said that the total number of employees laid off could change, but if confirmed, it would be the largest round of firings in the history of the 28-year-old company founded by Jeff Bezos.

READ ALSOBinance Pledges Redress Fund Amid FTX Fallout

The layoffs would follow an aggressive hiring spree. With business booming due to the coronavirus pandemic, as cooped up people turned in earnest to online shopping, Amazon doubled its workforce from the first quarter of 2020 to 1.62 million employees two years later.

But with the economy souring, two weeks ago Amazon announced a hiring freeze and its workforce has already decreased compared to the beginning of the year.

Contacted by AFP, Amazon did not respond immediately to a request to comment.

Last week, Meta, Facebook’s parent company, announced it was cutting 11,000 jobs, or about 13 percent of its workforce.

Online payment company Stripe and car-hailing app Lyft, also recently reported big layoffs. Twitter, freshly acquired by Elon Musk, earlier this month fired about half of its 7,500 employees.

AFP

Twitter Sacks Half Of Its Staff As Musk Launches Overhaul

The Twitter logo is seen on the exterior of Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, California, on October 28, 2022. (Photo by Constanza HEVIA / AFP)

 

Twitter sacked half of its 7,500-strong staff on Friday as new owner Elon Musk launched his major overhaul of the troubled company just a week after his blockbuster takeover.

An internal document seen by AFP said “roughly 50 percent” of employees were impacted and would be denied access to company computers and email on an immediate basis.

Workers around the world were shown the door and took to Twitter to vent their frustration or disbelief and say goodbye to one of Silicon Valley’s most iconic companies.

“Woke up to the news that my time working at Twitter has come to an end. I am heartbroken. I am in denial,” said Michele Austin, Twitter’s director of public policy for the US and Canada.

Ahead of the layoffs, Twitter closed access to its offices worldwide, asking employees to stay at home to await news of their fate through an email.

“It’s a pretty inhumane way to treat people. It seems like a mercenary effort, they’re trying to save money at all cost,” said one dismissed employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

READ ALSO: Banned Twitter Accounts To Be Restored – Musk

The cull is part of Musk’s push to find ways to pay for the mammoth $44 billion deal for which he took on billions of dollars in debt and sold $15.5 billion worth of Tesla shares, his electric car company.

Company sources said that Musk’s teams were imposing a furious pace on the remaining employees, bringing in Tesla developers to oversee the work of “Tweeps,” the inhouse name for Twitter workers.

Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX chief, is said to owe $1 billion in annual interest alone to pay for a deal he tried to wiggle out from almost as soon as he made it in April.

Musk has been scrambling to find new ways for Twitter to make money after his mammoth buyout, including an idea to charge users $8 a month for verified accounts.

The moves would help overcome the potential loss of advertisers, Twitter’s main source of revenue, with many of the world’s top brands putting their ad buys on hold, spooked by Musk’s well-known disdain for content controls.

 ‘Messed up!

The mercurial tycoon on Friday complained on Twitter of a “massive drop in revenue” that he blamed on “activist groups” that were pressuring advertisers.

“We did everything we could to appease the activists. Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America,” he added.

This appeared to refer to Musk’s recent meeting with civil rights groups in which he heard concerns that Twitter would open the floodgates to hate speech a week before midterm election in the United States.

In an effort to soothe nerves, Musk had vowed that Twitter will not become a “free-for-all hellscape,” but his pledge was quickly followed by a tweet relaying a conspiracy theory about an assault on the husband of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“We are witnessing the real time destruction of one of the world’s most powerful communication systems. Elon Musk is an erratic billionaire who is dangerously unqualified to run this platform,” said Nicole Gill, Executive Director of Accountable Tech.

She was part of a coalition of 60 rights groups calling on Friday for a boycott by advertisers of the Musk-owned platform.

Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, a leading civil rights organization, said it would be “immoral, dangerous, and highly destructive to our democracy for any advertiser to fund a platform that fuels hate speech, election denialism and conspiracy theories.”

“Until actions are taken to make this a safe space, we call on companies to pause all advertising on Twitter,” he added.

Though extremely influential with opinion-makers and celebrities, the California company has long struggled to generate profit and has failed to keep pace with Facebook, Instagram and TikTok in gaining new users.

In the sign that matters were not improving, data showed Twitter may have lost more than a million users since Elon Musk took over.

Estimates from Bot Sentinel, a firm that tracks Twitter accounts, suggested that more than 875,000 users deactivated their accounts between October 27 and November 1, while half a million more were suspended.

AFP

Wolves Sack Manager Bruno Lage

Bruno Lage. [email protected]

 

Wolves manager Bruno Lage was sacked on Sunday after his club plunged into the Premier League relegation zone 24 hours earlier.

Wolves have won only once in eight Premier League games this season and Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at fellow strugglers West Ham left them third-bottom of the table.

READ ALSO: Haaland Hails ‘Amazing’ City After United Rout

“Bruno is an excellent coach, a hardworking and dedicated manager, and a warm, wise and honest man,” Wolves chairman Jeff Shi said.

“He and his staff have been a pleasure to work with throughout their time at Wolves, so it is with much sadness that we have had to make what has been a difficult decision.”

AFP

Leeds Sack Manager Marcelo Bielsa After Poor Run

Leeds United’s Argentinian head coach Marcelo Bielsa reacts at the end of the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Leeds at the Anfield stadium, in Liverpool, north west England on February 23, 2022. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Leeds United on Sunday sacked manager Marcelo Bielsa following a poor run of results that has left the Premier League side just two points above the relegation zone.

Saturday’s dispiriting 4-0 loss to Tottenham at Elland Road was their fourth straight defeat, a run during which they have conceded 17 goals.

The 66-year-old Argentine remained convinced he could turn things around after the Spurs loss, but the Leeds board decided they had to act.

The club intends to make an announcement regarding Bielsa’s successor on Monday, with former RB Leipzig and RB Salzburg boss Jesse Marsch the heavy favourite to take over.

“Leeds United can today confirm the club have parted company with head coach Marcelo Bielsa,” a club statement said.

READ ALSO: Chelsea Condemn ‘Horrific And Devastating’ Russia-Ukraine Crisis

Chairman Andrea Radrizzani said he was forced to act due to the club’s “precarious position” in the Premier League.

“This has been the toughest decision I have had to make during my tenure at Leeds United, taking into account all the success Marcelo has had at the club.

“With Marcelo as our head coach, we had three incredible campaigns and the good times returned to Elland Road. He changed the culture of the club and brought a winning mentality to us all.

“The moments created, particularly in the 2019/20 season and winning promotion to the Premier League, will, of course, live long in all our memories, me and the fans included.

“However, I have to act in the best interest of the club and I believe a change is required now in order to secure our Premier League status.”

Leeds United’s Argentinian head coach Marcelo Bielsa reacts during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Leeds at the Anfield stadium, in Liverpool, north west England on February 23, 2022. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

The former Argentina manager, who took charge at Elland Road in 2018, will be remembered as one of the most important managers in the club’s history.

 Premier League return

He ended Leeds’ 16-year absence from the Premier League and then delivered a top-10 finish in their first season back in swashbuckling style.

But their second season in the top flight has been blighted by injuries and increasing questions over Bielsa’s tactics.

Bielsa has been deprived of key players for large chunks of the season, including forward Patrick Bamford and midfielder Kalvin Phillips.

His tactics and refusal to switch from his renowned style also came under fire as the 60 goals they have conceded is the worst in the division by some distance.

Bielsa leaves with the club in 16th position, two points from safety and in real danger of returning to the Championship.

Marsch, 48, has been heavily linked with the Leeds job. He has been out of work since leaving Bundesliga side RB Leipzig last year but is best known for his work at New York Red Bulls and RB Salzburg.

Leeds are next in action when they visit Leicester Saturday.

Director of football Victor Orta added: “Since arriving at Leeds United Marcelo had a huge impact on the club, on a scale I have not seen before.”

He added: “It is disappointing his reign has had to end in this manner, given the special times we have enjoyed in recent years, which have been some of the best in my career, but we cannot hide from recent results.”

AFP

Akwa Ibom Governor Sacks Chief Of Staff, Ephraim Inyang

Akwa Ibom Governor, Udom Emmanuel

 

Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel has sacked his Chief of Staff, Akparawa Ephraim Inyangeyen, with immediate effect.

The sack was contained in a letter signed by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, dated 22nd February and addressed to the former Chief of Staff.

The SSG, Dr Emmanuel Ekuwem, said that the sack became necessary due to the urgent need to match skill set and competencies to the task of maintaining the momentum of economic development required in the state.

READ ALSO: Court Sentences Ex-Minister Sarah Ochekpe, Two Others For Money Laundering

“On behalf of His Excellency, the Governor, government and the good people of Akwa Ibom State, I write to convey to you His Excellency, the Governor’s profound appreciation of the worthy contributions you made to the development of our dear State while you served as Chief of Staff to the Governor,” the letter partly read.

“However, given the urgent  need to  match skill set and competencies to the  task of maintaining  the momentum of  economic development  in peace, your services are no longer required and you are hereby relieved of your position, as Chief of Staff ( CoS)  to His Excellency, the Governor with immediate effect.”

The release did not name any replacement for the former chief of staff.

Watford Sack Ranieri After Just 14 Matches 

In this file photo taken on April 01, 2018, Italian coach Claudio Ranieri attends the French L1 football match between Nantes and Saint-Etienne at The La Beaujoire Stadium in Nantes.  LOIC VENANCE / AFP

 

Watford manager Claudio Ranieri was sacked on Monday after only 14 games in charge of the Premier League strugglers.

Ranieri was hired in October to replace Xisco Munoz after the Spaniard’s dismissal.

But the 70-year-old Italian was unable to improve Watford’s fortunes, with the Hornets taking just seven points during his brief reign.

Just 112 days after his appointment, Ranieri paid the price for Watford’s slump into the relegation zone following last week’s 3-0 defeat against relegation rivals Norwich.

READ ALSO: Liverpool Close On Man City As Arsenal Draw Blank

“Watford Football Club confirms the departure of Head Coach Claudio Ranieri,” a club statement said.

Watford are second bottom of the table, two points from safety, after losing seven of their last eight league games.

They are without a victory in nine games in all competitions, their longest winless run since 2013.

Watford’s owners, the Pozzo family, felt they had to act now to give the team a chance as they battle to avoid relegation after last season’s promotion from the Championship.

“The Hornets’ Board recognises Claudio as a man of great integrity and honour, who will always be respected here at Vicarage Road for his efforts in leading the team with dignity,” the statement said.

“However the Board feels that, with nearly half of the Premier League campaign remaining, a change in the Head Coach position now will give a new appointment sufficient time to work with a talented squad to achieve the immediate goal of retaining Premier League status.

“No further club comment will be made until this new appointment is confirmed in due course.”

Ranieri famously won a fairytale Premier League title with Leicester in 2016, but his spells in the English top-tier have been far less successful since then.

At Fulham, he was axed after just 106 days in charge in 2019, with the club eventually relegated from the Premier League after his dismissal.

Ranieri’s Watford reign started ominously after Liverpool thrashed them 5-0 in his first game.

Amid talk of player unrest at his methods, Watford’s 4-1 win against Manchester United in November was Ranieri’s second and final victory with the club.

The former Chelsea boss departed Vicarage Road having lost 11 of his 14 matches.

Since Javi Gracia’s exit in 2019, Watford have now sacked further five managers.

The Hornets are looking for their 15th manager since the Pozzo family bought the club in 2012.

Watford will hope to have a new manager in place in time for their crucial showdown at fellow strugglers Burnley on February 5.

They have been linked with Diego Martinez, a Spaniard who left his job as Granada boss last May.

AFP

Rohr’s Sack, European Clubs’ AFCON Threat + Other Top Sports Stories This Week

 

As COVID-19 continues to pose a threat to sports globally amid the Omicron variant, calls for the postponement of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), have gathered steam. 

In Nigeria,  the Super Eagles’ longest-serving coach was dismissed, while Akwa United got rewarded for their title-winning feat.

These and others, make up First Eleven, as we try to make sense of events in the sporting world in the past week.

Rohr’s Sack

Rohr maintains there was no justification for sacking him.

 

We begin from home where Nigeria on Sunday sacked long-time coach, Gernot Rohr, following a string of unconvincing results.

The decision came months after Nigeria lost at home to the lowly-rated Central Africa Republic (CAR), and survived a nervy game against Cape Verde to book a place in the playoff stage of the 2022 World Cup qualifier.

Days after Rohr’s dismissal, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Pinnick, explained that the decision had to be made to avoid disaster.

According to him, the German had lost the dressing and indiscipline was rife in the team.

But Rohr faulted the NFF for sacking him, maintaining that he met all targets.

A ‘Surprised’ Move

Eguavoen is a former Nigerian defender.

 

Although the NFF’s decision may not be surprising to many fans in Nigeria, the interim coach of the team, Austin Eguavoen, said he never expected to be handed the role.

The former Super Eagles defender explained that he also did not see Rohr’s sack coming.

“I would say I was shocked, I was surprised when my name was announced after a brief discussion but I thought Gernot Rohr will continue because it has always been, ‘Is he going to continue? Is he not going to continue?’ We’re going to sort things out,” Eguavoen told Channels Television.

“And then when my bosses spoke to me about it a couple of days ago I was like why not but is there a possibility that we can sort things out with him.”

Money Rain For Akwa United 

Akwa United won the league with 71 points. Photo: Akwa United.

 

Away from Rohr’s sack, Governor Emmanuel Udom rewarded Akwa United following their title-winning feat in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).

Udom in a ceremony to honour the team at the Government House in Uyo on Thursday promised them N100m, a bus, and a plot of land each to the players.

The Akwa Ibom Governor aside from the reward also urged the team to build on their league victory in the coming season.

NWFL Continues

Rivers Angels are seven-time NWFL champions. Photo: [email protected]

 

While Akwa United will be waiting for the start of the NPFL to defend their crown, matches have already started in the women’s league better known as the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL).

The league which began last weekend is already in Match Day 2. Fourteen teams will be competing in two groups of seven teams each.

Rivers Angels, last season’s winners, have started their title defense and have four points from two games played so far. But Bayelsa Queens are the leaders in Group A with four points having scored more goals.

In Group B of the NWFL, Confluence Queens led the chart after winning two of their games played so far.

Okpekpe Race Returns

East Africans Sweep Okpekpe Road Race

 

World Athletics has confirmed May 28, 2022, as the new date for the eighth Okpekpe International Road Race.

The decision is coming after the competition was twice moved – in 2021 and 2020 – due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of Pamodzi Sports Marketing – organisers of the competition –   Mike Itemuagbor, the road race will be back in a better form.

“We have done all the documentation required and we are delighted that World Athletics has confirmed the date we set for the race,” he said, adding that the Okpekpe Road Race will be held in line with COVID-19 guidelines.

AFCON: Pressure Mounts On CAF

AFCON trophy.

 

With less than a month to kickoff, there is pressure on the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to postpone the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The European Club Association, which represents leading clubs across the continent, is among leading voices calling for the postponement of the competition billed for Cameroon early next year.

With a host of African top stars playing in Europe, several big clubs are expected to lose players for at least to three-week.

Worried by the outbreak of the Omicron variant and a “suitable medical and operational protocol for the AFCON tournament,” ECA is threatening that the clubs will not release players for the competition. Amid clamours for the postponement, CAF insists the AFCON will hold as planned.

UEFA Draw Drama

 

In Europe, the UEFA Champions League knockout draws were held earlier in the week but an “error” from the organisers meant it had to be redone.

UEFA blamed a “material error” due to a “technical problem with the software of an external service provider” as it announced that the draw for the first knockout round of its flagship competition would be redone at 1400 GMT.  The full fixtures for the knockout phase of the Champions League can be found here.

Aguero Bows Out 

Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Kun Aguero looks on as he addresses a press conference to announce his retirement from football, at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, on December 15, 2021. Pau BARRENA / AFP

 

Two days after the Champions League knockout phase draws, Argentine star, Sergio Aguero retired from football, ending a career that saw him score 260 goals for Manchester City.

The 33-year-old, who recently moved to Barcelona and only managed five games, broke down in tears while announcing his retirement from the game in a press conference.

Compatriot, Lionel Messi, was among the first set of people to pay tribute to the former Atletico Madrid forward both of whom won the Copa America earlier this summer.

Messi and Aguero won the football event of the 2008 Olympics. Photo: Instagram/Leomessi

 

COVID-19 Ravages EPL

Manchester City’s Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva (2L) celebrates scoring his team’s second goal with teammates during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on November 6, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Aguero’s retirement was not the only health-related issue in European football this week. The English Premier League is battling a wave of COVID-19 infections. Owing to the resurgence of the disease, several league games have been called off but opinions are divided on moves for a COVID-19 break.

Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, is among those who maintain the league should continue while his Arsenal counterpart, Mikel Arteta, is calling for fairness before a decision is taken on the matter.

England is also not the only nation where the virus is disrupting football. In Spain, several Real Madrid players have contracted the disease.

F1 Great Hamilton Knighted

Mercedes’ British F1 driver Lewis Hamilton poses with his medal after being appointed as a Knight Bachelor (Knighthood) for services to motorsports, by Britain’s Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, during an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle in Windsor, west of London on December 15, 2021. Andrew Matthews / POOL / AFP

 

And just days after missing out on a record-breaking eighth Formula One title in controversial fashion, Lewis Hamilton was knighted by the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old was recognised in the New Year Honours list for services to motorsport following a year in which he broke Michael Schumacher’s all-time tally for Grand Prix wins and emulated the German by winning a seventh world title.

On Sunday, however, championship rival Max Verstappen won his first Formula One world title after a season-long battle with Hamilton came down to a one-lap shoot-out in Abu Dhabi.

‘Greatness!’ Steve Curry Sets Record

ead Coach Steve Kerr and Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors celebrate after passing Ray Allen for most three-pointers made in NBA history with 2,974 during the game against the New York Knicks on December 14, 2021, at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. Jesse D. Garrabrant / NBAE / Getty Images / Getty Images via AFP

 

In basketball, Golden State Warriors star, Stephen Curry, eclipsed Ray Allen’s all-time record for NBA three-pointers with his 2,973rd career three-pointer.

It came on his first shot of the clash with the New York Knicks, less than two minutes into the contest, and had the crowd on its feet.

 

Wike Sacks Commissioner For Health Professor Princewill Chike

A photo combination of a former Rivers State Health Commissioner, Professor Princewill Chike, and Governor Wike.

 

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has sacked his Commissioner for Health, Professor Princewill Chike.

Governor Wike announced this at the State Executive Council Chambers on Monday during a courtesy visit by officials of the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria who were in Government House to intimate him about their national conference holding in Port Harcourt.

The governor was enraged that the sacked commissioner solely approved the hosting of the conference without due process.

READ ALSO: Nasarawa Governor Nominates 28-Year-Old Law Graduate, 14 Others As Commissioners

He said he only learnt about the conference through a text message from the commissioner while on a foreign trip soliciting for the provision of logistics without prior information in private or during executive council meetings

According to him, the poor execution of plan by Professor Chike brought his administration to disrupt, coupled with the fact that the courtesy visit by the health body clashed with the state executive council’s approved date for the continuation of projects commissioning.

The governor, therefore, asked the commissioner to excuse the meeting before attending to the officials of the Medical and Dental Council, where he promised to further improve healthcare service delivery in Rivers State.

Kaduna Govt Sacks 233 Teachers, Schedules Fresh Competency Test For 12,254 Others

A file photo of Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai.

 

The Kaduna State Government has sacked 233 teachers for presenting fake certificates upon the time of their recruitment.

Tijjani Abdullahi, the Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board disclosed this on Thursday during a press conference in Kaduna.

He said the teachers were sacked after inquiries from the institutions they claimed to have attended, which showed that they presented fake certificates.

The decision to investigate the certificates of the teachers, the SUBEB Chairman explained, commenced in April 2021 as part of the board’s responsibility to ensure that all teachers actually have the qualifications they presented.

According to him, the major objective of the exercise is to ensure that all our teachers have the requisite credentials that constitute the basic qualifications for employment as teachers.

The Kaduna SUBEB Chairman added that 451 certificates have so far been verified by contacting the institutions that awarded the certificates, while nine of the 13 institutions contacted have responded.

READ ALSO: Emirates Airlines Announces Resumption Of Services In Nigeria After 10 Months

“So far, the Board has verified 451certificates by contacting the institutions that awarded the certificates. Nine of the 13 institutions contacted have responded, as of today,” he said.

“The responses from the institutions show that 233 teachers presented fake certificates. This represents 51% of the 451 certificates on which responses have been received from the awarding institutions. One institution disowned 212 of these 233 fake certificates.

“The Board will dismiss the 233 teachers who presented these fake certificates, while their files will be forwarded to the Ministry of Justice to initiate prosecution for forgery. The Board will continue to check the integrity of the certificates presented by teachers to ensure that this critical profession is not devalued by impostors.

“As part of our duty of transparency, the names of the 233 teachers found to have presented fake certificates will be uploaded on the website of the Kaduna State Government today.”

The Board also announced that it will conduct a fresh competency test for 12,254 teachers from January 2022 as part of continuous assessment of its teachers both for their own improvement and for better delivery of learning.

It will be recalled that the Kaduna State Government had in 2017 recruited 25,000 new teachers after it sacked over 22,000 unqualified ones following a competency.

‘Outstanding Human’: Ronaldo Pays Tribute To Solskjaer 

Ex-Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (L) shakes hands with Manchester United’s Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo as he comes off the substitutes bench during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Everton at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 2, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Cristiano Ronaldo paid tribute on Monday to “outstanding human being” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after the Norwegian was sacked as Manchester United manager.

Ronaldo, who returned to Old Trafford in August, has scored nine times in 13 games for United this season but has failed to prevent the club’s slide down the Premier League table after a series of embarrassing results.

Solskjaer was sacked on Sunday, less than 24 hours after United’s humiliating 4-1 defeat at Watford, which followed chastening home losses to Liverpool and Manchester City.

READ ALSOMan Utd Sack Solskjaer After Dismal Run

Ronaldo, 36, was a team-mate of Solskjaer’s in his first spell at the club under Alex Ferguson.

“He’s been my striker when I first came to Old Trafford and he’s been my coach since I came back to Man. United,” Ronaldo said on Twitter.

“But most of all, Ole is an outstanding human being. I wish him the best in whatever his life has reserved for him. Good luck, my friend! You deserve it!”

Former United midfielder Michael Carrick, who was part of Solskjaer’s coaching team, will take charge of upcoming games while the club look to appoint an interim manager until the end of the season.

United are already realistically out of the Premier League title race, 12 points behind leaders Chelsea, and face a crucial Champions League trip to Villarreal on Tuesday.

AFP

Solskjaer Says He Is Leaving Man Utd In ‘Better State’

File photo: Ex-Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts at the final whistle during the English League Cup semi final first leg football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Ol d Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 6, 2021. PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he hopes to have left Manchester United in a better state than he inherited them three years ago after the Norwegian was sacked by the club on Sunday.

A 4-1 thrashing at the hands of lowly Watford finally saw the axe fall on Solskjaer’s position after the club’s hierarchy kept faith with the 48-year-old in recent weeks despite humiliating home defeats to rivals Liverpool and Manchester City.

“This club means everything to me and together we’re a good match, but unfortunately I couldn’t get the results we needed and it’s time for me to step aside,” Solskjaer said in an interview with United’s in-house media.

“You know what this club means to me and what I wanted to achieve here. For the club, for the fans, for the players, for the staff. I wanted us to take the next step to challenge for the league, to win trophies.”

Solskjaer was handed the job on an interim basis in December 2018 thanks to his legendary status at the club after scoring the winning goal in the 1999 Champions League final to complete a historic treble.

READ ALSO: Man Utd Sack Solskjaer After Dismal Run

After winning 14 of his first 19 matches, he was then handed the job on a permanent deal.

Two seasons of steady progress saw United finish in the Premier League top four in back-to-back seasons for the first time since Alex Ferguson retired as boss in 2013.

But silverware escaped Solskjaer as he lost four cup semi-finals and last season’s Europa League final in a marathon penalty shootout to Villarreal.

Expectations were high of a Premier League title challenge this season after the signings of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane in the transfer window.

But United have lost five of their last seven league games to fall 12 points behind leaders Chelsea.

“I want to thank the board and the owners for giving me the opportunity because it’s not for everyone and I’ve had the opportunity,” added Solskjaer.

“I’m so honoured and privileged to have been trusted to take the club forward, and I really hope that I leave it in a better state than when I came.

“I think there is potential in this club. We all love the club, and we all want to see it continue.”

Former United midfielder Michael Carrick, who was part of Solskjaer’s coaching staff, will take charge of Tuesday’s crucial Champions League clash against Villarreal.

Solskjaer said he had spoken to the players on Sunday morning to encourage them to prove they are better than they have showed in recent weeks in Spain.

“As I’ve said to them this morning as well, trust yourselves, you know we’re better than this,” he added.

“We’ve not been able to show it but go out, chest out, enjoy being a Man United player, in the Champions League, on the biggest stage. If and when you win the game, you’re through to the next round.

“Michael is going to be in charge. Michael, I have the utmost respect, I love Michael to bits. I’m becoming emotional now because he’s top. They’ll be fine. I’ll watch them and support them.”

AFP

‘Jinxed:’ Four Times Man United Lost Semi-Final Games Under Solskjaer

In this file photo taken on October 16, 2021, ex-Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts at the end of the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Manchester United sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as the club’s manager on Sunday, ending a three-year trophyless stint which saw the Norwegian losing four semi-finals and a final.  

A 1-4 humiliating defeat against relegation-threatened Watford at the Vicarage Road on Saturday, the latest in a string of losses, was the final straw.

The loss left the Old Trafford side seventh on the league log, 12 points behind leaders Chelsea. They are also facing a threat of non-qualification for the Champions League next season.

Before Sunday’s sack, United under Solskjaer had failed to win a trophy, their last being the Europa League they clinched during Jose Mourinho’s reign.

But the former Molde manager did get some near misses during his time with the 1999 European champions.

READ ALSO: Five Potential Candidates To Replace Solskjaer

Here are four times Manchester United lost semi-final encounters under Solskjaer:

2020/21: Man Utd 0-2 Man City (Carabao Cup)

File photo: Former Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer reacts at the final whistle during the English League Cup semi-final first leg football match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on January 6, 2021. PETER POWELL / POOL / AFP

 

With the COVID-19 pandemic halting sports globally, the Carabao Cup semi-final was a single-legged affair.

But Manchester United, in their fourth semi-final encounter under the Norwegian coach, crumbled 0-2 in the hands of neighbours Manchester City.

Brazil’s Fernandinho was on song during the game, wrapping up a match that also saw  John Stones getting on the scorer’s sheet.

2019/20: Sevilla 2-1 Man Utd  (Europa League)

Players including Manchester United’s Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea reacts after the UEFA Europa League semi-final football match Sevilla v Manchester United on August 16, 2020, in Cologne, western Germany. Ina Fassbender / POOL / AFP

 

After taking a first-half advantage via a Bruno Fernandes goal. However, they were pegged back just before the break. United missed several chances before Luuk De Jong punished them with a winner with 12 minutes to go. It’s the team’s third semi-final defeat under Solskjaer.

2019/20: Chelsea 3-1 Man Utd (FA Cup)

Chelsea players celebrating after Giroud scored the opener in the FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester United on Sunday, July 19th, 2020. Photo: [email protected]

 

 

The second semi-final defeat for United since the arrival of the club legend ended their 19-match unbeaten streak. It was also the third time in four terms that Chelsea had eliminated the Red Devils from the competition.

 2019/20: Man Utd 1-3 Man City; Man City 0-1 Man Utd (agg 2-3) – Carabao Cup

United’s Brandon Williams leaps high in the air to try to win the ball against Mahrez during the clash. Photo: Manchester United.

 

In a classic display for Pep Guardiola’s men, Manchester United blew away Solskjaer’s boys, taking a massive 3-0 lead under 30 minutes.

English striker Marcus Rashford got a consolation goal for United in the second half in the first leg encounter.

In the second leg encounter, Manchester United won 3-2 but that was inadequate to see them through to the final.